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India: More girls abandoned than boys, leading to rise in their adoptions, child rights activists tell SC

PTI

New Delhi, India Updated: Mar 20, 2024, 11:47 PM IST




Girl smiling (Representative image) Photograph:(Others)


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

The CARA, in its affidavit, gave details of the children falling under five categories -- orphan, abandoned, surrendered, unfit parents and non-visitation -- who are available for adoptions in the country, according to the data provided by certain states.


According to the recent affidavit filed by the director of the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) in the Supreme Court, a total of 15,536 children and youth of both genders up to the age of 18 years were adopted in 11 states between 2021 and 2023 under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA).


The parents adopted 9,474 girls in comparison to 6,012 boys during this period, indicating a rise in the number of adoptions for girls.


The CARA is a statutory body of the Union ministry of women and child development and works as the nodal agency for the adoption of children in the country. It is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.


There is no such trend but more girls are abandoned so that is why availability is high for adoption, the experts told PTI.


Availability of more girl children results in their more adoption, said Bharti Ali, co-founder and the executive director of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.


“This (rise) may be because there are more girls available, more daughters are dumped,” she said.


Child rights activist Enakshi Ganguly concurred with Ali’s views and said, “That's because more girls are abandoned or surrendered and, hence, more (are) available for adoption.”


CARA, in its affidavit, gave details of the children falling under five categories -- orphan, abandoned, surrendered, unfit parents and non-visitation -- who are available for adoptions in the country, according to the data provided by certain states.


A total number of 20,673 children (under the age group of 7-11 years and 12-18 years) have been identified so far in the states and Union Territories (UTs) during an identification drive comprising the five categories, it said.


Ten states and UTs -- Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Manipur -- have not provided the data on total adoptions during the period.


In Punjab, a total of 7,496 adoptions were registered under the HAMA. Out of them, 4,966 were girls and 2,530 were boys.


In Telangana, the couples preferred male children for adoption under the HAMA.


The top court, on March 15, voiced displeasure over the failure to set up Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAAs) meant to streamline the adoption process of abandoned and surrendered children in 370 districts across the country. It warned the states and UTs of 'coercive steps' for non-compliance of its directions.


It lamented that out of 760 districts in the country, 370 do not have functional SAAs, a necessary legal requirement under the Juvenile Justice Act.


The SAAs prepare the home study report of the prospective adoptive parents and after finding them eligible, refers a child declared legally free for adoption to them along with the child study report and the medical report of the child.


The bench also asked the states and the UTs to provide the latest data by April 7 to the Union ministry of women and child development on setting up of SAAs and the number of adoptions, saying that it wanted to know whether the court orders have made any difference on the ground or not.


Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, said the states should be asked to provide the data to the Union ministry for effective implementation of the court orders meant to smoothen the adoption procedure.


“All states and Union Territories are peremptorily directed to ensure that within every district falling within their jurisdiction, SAAs as required by the Juvenile Justice Act 2015, shall be set up by 31 January 2024,” the bench had directed on November 20 last year.


The top court had earlier said the child adoption process in India is 'very tedious' and that there is an urgent need for the procedure to be streamlined.


The apex court was hearing a PIL by 'The Temple of Healing' which sought simplification of the legal process for child adoption in India, saying only 4,000 adoptions take place annually in the country.


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